Underwater still image of a shipwreck
The stern of Endurance, with the name and emblematic polestar. © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic
The stern of Endurance, with the name and emblematic polestar. © Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust / National Geographic

Historic England Partners with UK Antarctic Heritage Trust on the Future Protection of Shackleton’s Endurance

Work is due to begin on a Conservation Management Plan for the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance. It will be devised in partnership with the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), a charity responsible for the conservation of a number of heritage sites in Antarctica.

To mark the beginning of the partnership, a free online webinar ('Enduring Discoveries: finding and conserving Shackleton's Endurance') took place on Monday 21 November 2022 as part of UKAHT’s 'Antarctica In Sight: Live!' series. UKAHT’s Camilla Nichol was joined by Dr John Shears, expedition leader with Endurance22, and Historic England’s maritime archaeologist Hefin Meara, who will be leading on the project for Historic England.

Sir Ernest Shackleton and Endurance

The wreck of Endurance, the vessel used by Sir Ernest Shackleton during his 1914-16 Antarctic Expedition, was designated as a protected historic site and monument HSM No.93 under the Antarctic Treaty System in 2019. A British-led expedition Endurance22, organised and managed by the Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust (FMHT), discovered the ship 3,008 metres below sea level in the Weddell Sea on 5 March 2022; one hundred years to the day after the burial of Sir Ernest Shackleton at Grytviken, South Georgia.

The Conservation Management Plan, which has been commissioned by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, will take two years to develop and will be presented to the Committee for Environmental Protection at the annual Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting. The plan will aim to communicate the importance of the site, identify the unique challenges and opportunities in conserving the wreck, and recommend measures and guidance to secure its protection.

The remarkable story of the Endurance is universally known and the ship’s association with Shackleton gives it global significance. Its story is one of the greatest feats of endeavour and survival ever told. Now the location is known, it is our responsibility to make sure that Endurance is protected. I am delighted that we are able to announce this partnership with Historic England which brings together our shared expertise in Antarctic heritage and the protection of shipwrecks. Our aim is to ensure that future human activity serves only to benefit and protect Endurance and the stories associated with the ship continue to inspire and inform us in the future.
Camilla Nichol, CEO UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT)
We are excited to be partnering with UKAHT on this project. This is a unique opportunity to work on an internationally important shipwreck, which captured the attention of the world when it was discovered earlier this year deep in the Weddell Sea. We look forward to devising a plan to ensure its protection for future generations.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Historic England